Tens of thousands have left the communist-ruled country since mass anti-government protests last July but many face life in limbo in Mexico

That decision triggered a string of frightening confrontations with Cuban police – and ultimately prompted him to flee the country, leaving his two young children behind.

Rafael is one of thousands of Cubans who have left the island since the largest anti-government protests in 30 years erupted spontaneously in cities across the country on 11 July.

Well-known dissidents have been able to secure visas or receive asylum from various countries, primarily Spain and the United States, over the past six months while still in Cuba.

But many ordinary Cubans whose first political act was taking to the streets last July have begun to leave the island as well, seeing self-exile as a better option than prison.

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